U.S. Army Watercraft Update

By Gourley, Scott R. | Army, March 1, 2014 | Go to article overview

U.S. Army Watercraft Update


Gourley, Scott R., Army


U.S. Army watercraft have re- mained largely out of the spot- light over the past dozen years. In- stead, warfighter investments have focused on capabilities essential to on- going operations in Iraq and Afghan- istan. As part of the current rebalanc- ing toward the Pacific, however, the Army will seek cost-effective solu- tions to modernize Army watercraft in support of current and emerging warfighter requirements.

The Army's watercraft deliver war- fighting supplies, vehicles and sustain- ment cargo to a wide variety of ports- either alone or in concert with the U.S. Navy-providing commanders with the ability to move strategic support and supplies to ports without the need for commercial carriers.

Secretary of the Army John M. McHugh emphasized the importance of Army watercraft in the Pacific dur- ing a July 2013 visit to Joint Base (JB) Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii. While visiting with Army mariners from the 8th Theater Sustainment Command aboard the U.S. Army Logistics Sup- port Vessel Lt. Gen. William B. Bunker, McHugh said, "As we rebalance our efforts in the Pacific, it's capabilities like this-and the soldiers who make them possible-that are critical to the United States Army and to the United States of America. This vessel's self- sufficient crew enables a level of readi- ness and maneuverability that en- hances all operations in the Pacific, to include humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

"Over-the-water transportation en- hances readiness and speeds our ability to deploy sizable amounts of personnel and equipment," he said. "Combined with land and air platforms, these wa- tercraft complete a triad of movement, delivery and distribution modes."

Army program management repre- sentatives echo that sentiment, broadly characterizing the Army's watercraft fleet as an important resource that en- ables combatant commanders in the Pacific and elsewhere around the world to achieve their objectives by ex- panding ground commanders' maneu- ver space.

The Army watercraft fleet currently includes approximately 130 Causeway, Landing Craft and Floating Craft sys- tems. Often employed in synergistic combinations, they enable the Army to operate through fixed, degraded and austere ports as well as bare beach sites to conduct amphibious and riverine operations, while providing essential logistics support to joint operations.

The fleet is managed under the Pro- gram Executive Office for Combat Sup- port and Combat Service Support, where Zina Kozak-Zachary is the prod- uct director for Army Watercraft Sys- tems.

"Maneuver is critical to a comman- der's success in executing a wide range of missions. It's not just about the tanks and trucks but about getting the soldiers and the capabilities they need to the right place at the right time," she said. "As we look to areas like the Pa- cific, Army watercraft represent an im- portant part of commanders' scheme of maneuver and ability to accomplish their missions."

The current Army watercraft fleet consists of four primary elements: Command and Control, Causeway, Landing Craft, and Floating Craft.

The Command-and-Control element falls under the responsibility of the Program Executive Office for Com- mand, Control, Communications-Tacti- cal. With program names like Harbor- master Command and Control Center and Landing Craft Mechanized (LCM) Mod 2, the systems provide command and control of port assets, visibility and input to the common operating picture, and cargo tracking.

The Causeway element of the fleet consists of three Modular Cause- way System capability sets, with each set providing a multipurpose and modular capability to establish the critical logistics link between strategic shipping and shore discharge and al- lowing logistics throughput despite water depth and constraints caused by the sloping of beaches. …

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